Homework: MuckRock, Baltimore, and more David Simon

Some readings, a quick signup, stuff to prep for the last 2 weeks of data journalism work. No points, but please do the work or face a very difficult quiz after Thanksgiving…

Table of contents
Thursday, November 17 at 1:30PM
0 Homework points

Become a MuckRock Pro

Michael Morisy, founder of FOIA-service MuckRock has generously gifted our entire cohort with free MuckRock Pro accounts.

Basically, you can file up to 150 FOIAs in a month, and MuckRock will take care of the boilerplate and tracking. Plan on spending the 9th week of class researching and thinking about what records you're interested in for the rest of the year.

How to signup

  1. Sign-up for a Basic account here: https://www.muckrock.com/accounts/signup/basic/
  2. When the process is finished, email me your username and I will add you to our Pro account.

Since sending a FOIA is free…why not? You can see the few things I've asked for (at $20 for 4 requests, at the non-Pro rate!) on my profile.

This little signup is somewhat related to one of our last projects: 10 FOIAs

Read the 2010 Baltimore Sun investigation of rape case numbers

One of my favorite examples of how to do something when all you have is bad data:

Earlier in the quarter, we read another investigation of how to count what's being legally ignored: the Sun-Sentinel's Pulitzer Prize investigation of speeding of Florida cops.

But speeding is something that can be more or less mathematically proven, which is how the Sun-Sentinel prevailed despite the lack of police records. There is much less agreed-upon ground on proving sexual assault allegations, even under the most ideal circumstances, nevermind when police investigators start to shirk their duty.

Read how Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton convinced City Hall that something was broken, even using the suspiciously flawed numbers published by the Baltimore Police Department.

Here's a relevant chart:

via the Baltimore Sun

Last year's lesson: Baltimore's strange rape decline

David Simon pressing the police

I know, we've read a lot of his words. The journey is almost over…These articles take place in 2009 but are relevant today and provide some insights about the tension between accountability and secrecy when it comes to public records.